Stimulus plan includes billions for new construction and jobs

WASHINGTON — The ambitious $825 billion economic stimulus plan the House will vote on Wednesday blends new spending on everything from construction projects to unemployment aid with tax cuts for both individuals and businesses. 

Democrats who control Congress contend the bill will create or save up to 4 million jobs, provide immediate tax breaks for 95 percent of workers and jumpstart the economy.

Many congressional Republicans oppose the recovery package, however, saying it needs more tax cuts and less spending. Overall, the plan contains about $275 billion in tax cuts, about one third of the overall package.

President Barack Obama, after meeting Tuesday with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, said “there are some legitimate philosophical differences.” But he said his main message to the Republicans was that “statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation” and “the American people expect action.” 

Here’s a glimpse of some of the key items in the House bill, according to a synopsis provided Tuesday by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to House members. The Senate has its own stimulus plan that is expected to come up for a vote early next month. 

Unemployed workers
— Helps an estimated 8.5 million people keep health care coverage after job losses.
— Provides a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA health benefit premiums for up to 12 months for people who involuntarily lose their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. COBRA currently provides temporary coverage but is expensive. A typical family premium costs over $1,000 a month.
— Extends through December 2009 unemployment benefits that are scheduled to phase out at the end of March for 3.5 million unemployed workers.
— Increases unemployment benefits by $25 a week for 20 million unemployed workers.
— Increases food stamp benefits by more than13 percent.
— Increases funding by more than $1 billion for other food assistance, such as afterschool meals, food for the homeless and hungry and Meals on Wheels. 
— Provides more than $4.1 billion for job training and related programs. 

— Creates an estimated 1.5 million jobs, about half the jobs the plan proposes. 
— Rebuilds roads, bridges and public buildings as well as cleans up the environment.
— States have told Congress they have 5,100 projects – costing $64 billion – that could be under contract within 180 days. States must designate half the highway and transit money for projects within six months or the Department of Transportation can reclaim the funds.
— Sets aside $10 billion to build mass transit and rail 
— Upgrades federal buildings and makes them energy efficient, saving taxpayers $2 billion a year.
— Modernizes water systems and strengthens environmental cleanup. 

Health care
— Saves or creates an estimated 250,000 jobs in health care and education.
— Provides an estimated $87 billion in additional federal matching funds to help states maintain their Medicaid programs in the face of massive state budget shortfalls, over a two-year period. (Medicaid is the health insurance program that serves low-income families and individuals, as well as people with disabilities, pregnant women and those in nursing homes.)
— Includes $600 million for the training of doctors, dentists and nurses.
— Provides $3 billion for a new prevention and wellness fund.
— Includes $1.5 billion for community health centers.

— Creates more than 500,000 energy-related jobs.
— Includes $500 million to train workers for green-collar jobs.
— Provides $11 billion to improve electricity systems’ efficiency and reliability through a “Smart Grid Investment Program.” 
— Creates temporary loan guarantees for up to $80 billion for renewable energy power generation and electric transmission projects.
— Encourages states to update energy-efficient building codes and regulatory policies and provides new modernization repair programs for schools and colleges.
— Provides consumer rebates to buy energy-efficient appliances.
— Expands tax credits through 2010 for purchases such as new furnaces, energy-efficient windows, doors and insulation. 
— Expands aid per household for more than 1 million modest-income families who improve energy efficiency in their homes through weatherization. 

Scientific research and space
— Creates more than 949,000 jobs through $40 million in investments in IT network infrastructure.
— Provides $10 billion for scientific research, including investments at the National Science Foundation. That would include supporting 3,000 new NSF research awards and immediately put to work 12,750 senior scientists, as well as undergraduate- graduate- and post-graduate level researchers.
— Provides $600 million to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including $400 million to put more scientists to work on climate change research.
— Includes $400 million for the construction and development of major research facilities that perform “cutting-edge” research. 
— Includes $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including $1.5 billion for expanding biomedical research.
— Provides $6 billion for extending broadband and wireless services to underserved communities.

— Saves or creates an estimated 250,000 jobs in education and health care. 
— Provides $20 billion to modernize schools and colleges nationwide. 
— Increases tax credits, grants, work-study programs and loans for students. 
— Provides Head Start $2.1 billion in additional funding. 
— Includes $2 billion in grants for childcare for low-income working families. 
— Establishes a fund to prevent education cuts and layoffs in states. 

Tax credits and cuts for individuals 

— The proposal claims 95 percent of workers would receive a refundable tax credit of $500 per worker or $1,000 per couple filing jointly. The credit phases out at $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for couples filing jointly.
— Expands the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit.
— Enhances the current $7,500 credit for first-time homebuyers by removing the repayment requirement.

Tax incentives for businesses
— Allows businesses to write off 90 percent of losses incurred in 2008 and 2009 against taxes assessed over the past five years. Businesses that receive bailout funds would be ineligible.
— Helps businesses recover costs of new capital investments.
— Doubles the amount small businesses can write off for capital investments and for purchase of new equipment in 2009. 

Tax incentives for energy efficiency
— Extends and expands tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements.
— Extends tax credits for producers of alternative-energy sources.
— Creates a tax credit for alternative-energy research and development.
— Increases incentives to install alternative fuel pumps. 

Contact Billy House at 202-662-7673 or

Contact Amy Dominello at 202-662-7671 or

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